All posts by casualviewer

A Prayer Before Dawn – Review

After I watched A Prayer Before Dawn, I spoke to a friend of mine and they asked me how I would best describe the film without giving anything away. The words that came out of my mouth were strange at first, but not totally unexpected:

The Raid: Southpaw.

A Prayer Before Dawn tells the real-life story of Billy Moore (portrayed by Joe Cole, who you might recognise from Peaky Blinders), a British man who, after getting involved with matters of drugs and burglary, tries to reset his life in Thailand as a stuntman and a boxer. Things never really get better since we see Billy being arrested for gun offences and incarcerated in the Klong Prem prison in Bangkok. This is where the vast majority of the film is set, following our protagonist as he learns the martial art of Muay Thai and fights in tournaments in an attempt to earn his freedom.

Image result for a prayer before dawn .

There’s something quite visceral about A Prayer Before Dawn that is rarely seen in western cinema, a culture where we seem more than happy to engage in the stylised action scenes that populate every blockbuster and beyond, allowing ourselves to witness an ungodly amount of violence over the course of two hours. In A Prayer Before Dawn, however, the violence is the aspect of the feature that might make you turn your head away for a split second. In that, it reminds me a lot of the excellent The Raid films, where the gruesome violence is integral to every bit of the film, from camera work and framing to story and characters. A Prayer Before Dawn offers an almost intimate window into the violence, with director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire often placing the camera right next to or in between the fighters and that, allied with the fantastic and all too real sound design, will make it hard to deny that some people must have gotten hurt during this production.

As for the acting, Joe Cole blows it out of the park, in all honesty. A leading actor in all, the sensibility displayed during not only the high octane scenes but also the quiet, more intimate, moments amounts to a performance that is sure to turn heads. While the hardships and downfalls of this character are something many of us will not have any experience with, Cole makes it incredibly easy to believe, understand and symphatise with him. For this, Sauvaire also deserves recognition. The rest of the cast is mostly made up on newcomers, many of them achieved Muay Thai practitioners, which only helps with immersion on our part. The exception in here might be Vithaya Pansringarm, who was previously seen in Only God Forgives.

Image result for a prayer before dawn .

But what is by far the best aspect of this film, which, ironically, might be the make or break for audiences, is the choice to present the conversations in Thai unsubtitled. There’s a lot of it (which you should expect for a film set in Thailand), and it all helps create a sense of paranoia with both Billy and the audience. It’s a simple but effective technique to further place us in the protagonist’s shoes, and it works wonders. Like Billy, we end up trying to figure out what the conversations are about, hanging on inflections and tone to decipher the enigma and overcome the language barrier.

It’s nice to have a film with lower stakes, with a different pace, but no less dangerous or exciting. Whilst A Prayer Before Dawn will very often feel like a punch in the gut with its gruesome action, the character study on display will feel like a pack of ice on a bruise and a hot drink at the end of the day.

A Prayer Before Dawn is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

The House Of Small Cubes – Short Film Review

The idea of flashback through one’s life is a seriously overexplored storytelling technique by now, however, The House Of Small Cubes executes it in a near-perfect way.

Living in a town steadily being submerged, a widower is forced to keep adding levels to his house, always keeping a trap door to the lower floors. After losing his pipe, he decided to journey down the house, bringing back memories of his life.

Kunio Kato’s animation is incredibly beautiful, truly nothing will ever compete with the use of hand drawings for an emotional punch. In here, it is also accompanied by Kenji Kondo’s subtle, yet memorable, score that fits the contemplative nature of the short like a glove.

There’s not much else I can say in a spoiler free review. It’s 12 minutes long with no dialogue and it’s on Netflix. Just watch it.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Brand New Trailer!

In the words of Chancellor Palpatine: “A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one”.

After the untimely end of Star Wars: The Clone Wars back in 2014, there has always been a void in the franchise. Granted, Star Wars: Rebels did a fair job for most of its 4 seasons to continue the legacy of The Clone Wars, going as far as bringing back some fan favourite characters and giving them the end of storylines left open for over 4 years. Ultimately, though, entire plots were left untold, like that of the Siege of Mandalore.

But fear not! Star Wars: Clone Wars is back! This 12 episode series will be a part of Disney’s upcoming streaming service.

The release date is yet to be announced.

Titans – San Diego Comic-Con Day 1

Here’s something you don’t see every day.

After months of teasing, DC finally released the first trailer for their upcoming series Titans, the big launching point for the upcoming streaming service known as DC Universe.

Titans is based on the popular DC Comics team Teen Titans. Long story short, in 1964 comicbook artists Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani asked “What if Justice League…with teens?” and a team was born. Over the years, Teen Titans has been a vehicle to reflect on the problems teenagers and young adults are faced with, making for an incredibly relatable comicbook.

Titans, however, doesn’t seem to be going that way.

We are introduced to a much darker setting and, generally, older characters. By the looks of it, we will be following Dick Grayson/Robin and Rachel Roth/Raven as they form a team to protect the planet from an incoming threat (please let it be Trigon…)

Check out the trailer below!

Titans is out later this year! 

Shazam! – Brand New Teaser!

And all of a sudden, I can finally breathe.

With Marvel being a no-show, the DCEU’s display at San Diego Comic-Con had to be a big one, a cry of hope for both those who stayed with the franchise through its ups and downs and the ones who wanted DC to start releasing coherent films on a regular basis.

And it seems like we have just that.

The joyful Shazam! teaser is exactly what the DCEU needed. It sold the unique concept of the titular character and it’s an incredibly funny trailer, whilst also, generally, maintaining the colour palette of this superhero universe. We couldn’t help but smile at Zachary Levi’s delivery of certain lines.

Consider us excited!

Shazam is out April 2019! 

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – Brand New Trailer!

Did you ever watch (the excellent) 13 Hours, but wished John Krasinski had a bit more to work with? Yes? Well, rejoice, because so has Amazon Video. So much so that they ordered a 10-episode series led by the actor and so Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan was born.

The actor will be taking up the mantle of the eponymous character, following the footsteps of Harrison Ford and, more recently, Chris Pine, to bring us what is arguably one of Tom Clancy’s most famous characters.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan premieres August 31st on Amazon Prime.